The beauty of the creative industry is that every professional you meet in the field will be happy to tell you they're making money by doing something they love.
Freelance 3D artist Paul Gawman is no different. He's lucky enough to be successful as an independent artist, working with brands in the likes of Coca-Cola, Disney and more. Paul is his own boss – and he's loving the freelance life.
This is not the first time Paul appears on our magazine. Last month, we were proud to feature his Look Deeper work for Ogilvy Health as one of our Behind the Idea features. For this Member Spotlight, we are glancing into the life of a talented creative professional, learning more about his passions and achievements.
How did you get into the industry?
From a young age, I have always held a deep passion for creativity; whether it be drawing, sculpting or photography. After studying Graphic Communication at university, I made the life-changing decision to move to Australia in the early noughties.
Whilst down under, my first taste of the industry was as a Creative Retouch Artist at a company called Laser Graphics. I worked alongside world-class photographers on product, portrait and automotive shoots. This provided me with invaluable experience in compositing and grading captures, whilst I studied how each photographer would light their subject, and how to correctly place lights to best describe the shape of the talent or product.
This on the job experience and a curiosity for experimentation really helped when I eventually started to venture into lighting 3D scenes. Maya, in particular, further fueled my desire to get into the world of 3D, and from then on I began to craft the 3D and 2D aspects of all campaigns.
Where are you based now and who do you work for?
I am an independent Digital Artist working under my own banner for the past 4 years - based in Sydney’s Northern Beaches. Over the last 20 years, I have had the fortune to work alongside some of the world's biggest names, including Disney, Volkswagen and Coca-Cola.
If you weren’t in your current industry, what would you be doing?
If my career had gone in a different direction, I imagine I would still be in a creative field. I enjoy being creative with my hands, so maybe I could be a carpenter. Digital Sculpting is a real passion of mine, also, and I hope one day - when I have spare time - to experiment with traditional sculpting.
Can you explain your creative process?
With every client that approaches me for work, they tend to provide me with a unique creative problem to solve. The brief I am given can vary in detail, length and specificity; sometimes verbal and very loose, other times they are extremely detailed and prescriptive. I pride myself on providing creative input and value to a particular project, which has equated to working for some of the most prestigious brands in the world.
How has technology affected the way you work (if at all)?
From when I first started to now, the hardware and software available to us as artists continues to become more powerful and less expensive, meaning bigger opportunities for smaller teams. Considering the current COVID-19 climate, in particular, many more people are working from home, unable to have face-to-face meetings or get to work.
Therefore, having efficient remote capabilities allows the industry and its artists to work seamlessly from anywhere in the world with an internet connection and the right software, with minimal interruption. Something we’re very fortunate to have as we are all very much unaware as to when the world will return to a semblance of normality.
With the addition of cloud-based rendering, animations and high-resolution images, artists can now render off site without having to spend big on expensive infrastructure. There is no need for travel or face-to-face meetings; team members can be on the other side of the world – as can the client.
Artificial intelligence, advances in GPU acceleration and real-time ray tracing are having huge implications on workflows for the better. With this innovation in mind, it is more important than ever that as artists we make sure we continue to learn and develop our skills in order to keep up with an ever-advancing industry.
What’s your secret to staying inspired and motivated?
I am always inspired by what I see from other artists and studios. It motivates me to be bigger, bolder and more experimental with work projects or concepts I am working on personally. The ever-evolving standards seen in this industry motivates me to push my work to the next level. I love to learn and develop my skills as an artist, so I regularly seek out innovative new ways to work and learn using the latest software and techniques to stand out in a very crowded industry.
What’s the work achievement you’re most proud of?
I have achieved an awful lot over the last 20 years in an incredibly exciting industry, but I think even when I consider the major achievements in my life like moving down under or working for great brands, the feat that always makes me proud is that I am living out my dream of being my own boss as an independent artist.
How do you recharge away from the office?
I spend an awful lot of time in front of a screen, so it is important to move where possible and disconnect from it all. I am very lucky to live in a beautiful part of Australia, with great weather and beaches, so in normal circumstances, I try to spend as much free time exercising, attending art exhibitions or relaxing and spending time with my family and friends.
What advice would you give to other aspiring creatives looking for work?
The beauty of this industry is that it never stands still, so as an artist you should always seek ways to reinvent, develop and be the best version of yourself. Never stop learning. Embrace new techniques, software and competition as a means to grow as an artist and learn to enjoy the journey it will take you on. If you focus on the fundamentals of your chosen field, the rest will follow.